|Vol. 1, No. 3
Sivan 5603 June 1843
We are pleased to learn that active operations are on foot by the German congregations of England, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of the late Dr. S. Hirschell. We consider it a happy feature, betokening a spirit of union and mutual co-operation for the effecting of a general good, that the great Synagogue of London, instead of, as formerly, electing a rabbi by itself, has invited all the other metropolitan and country congregations to send delegates to meet in general conference in London. At two preliminary meetings of this body, held on the 19th and 21st of Adar Rishon (February), it was resolved, among other matters, as to the qualifications of the Chief Rabbi:
"That each candidate shall present to the committee testimonials of abilities from chief rabbis and others, and shall be expected to be swell acquainted with ancient classical and modern general literature, and to have a competent knowledge of some of the modern European languages.
"That he shall deliver discourses when required; and the successful candidate will be expected to qualify himself to deliver such discourses in English within two years from the date of his appointment."
We fervently hope that the choice of the Israelites of England may fall upon one in whom "there is a spirit," a man, who, whilst filling a station the highest within the gift of Jews, may feel that he has duties to discharge which, if exercised in the spirit of humility, may have an important bearing on the whole household of Jacob. For, though in this country we have no chief ecclesiastical authority, it may be confidently predicted that one will be instituted, as soon as our people can be convinced, by the example of an enlightened ecclesiastic in England, that a spiritual chief is truly a blessing to a community over which he presides.
On the 27th of February last "The Montefiore Testimonial," a magnificent piece of plate prepared for Sir Moses Montefiore, as a token of the respect of his brethren for his humane and successful exertions on behalf of the Damascus sufferers, was presented to him by the committee charged with this pleasing duty, through their chairman, Hananel de Castro, Esq. We would gladly transcribe his speeches made by Mr. De Castro and Sir Moses upon this interesting occasion, but our space is too limited for this purpose; we therefore refer our readers to the Voice of Jacob, Nos. 41 and 42, which contain a full account of the whole ceremonial.
The Damascus Jews have followed the example set by the brothers Harari, and emancipated their slaves.
The President of Mexico, Santa Anna, has repealed the laws hitherto existing, according to which Roman Catholics only could become Mexican citizens, and a Mexican woman was not permitted to marry any but a member of the Catholic Church. This repeal, which henceforward opens the country to Jews, will doubtless soon be turned to account by them.
Rome. The daily journals contain intelligence from Rome of a serious overflow of the Tiber. The principal sufferers were the Jews, who, confined to the Ghetto or Jewry, (the lowest ground in the vicinity,) were compelled to take refuge in the upper stories of their houses, and have supplies of food brought to them in boats for several days. Much commiseration is expressed for them;--will any useful result follow?--will our poor brethren cease to be huddled together by law, in the most exposed part of the imperial city?
Galicia, (Austrian Poland.)--The A. Z. d. J. gives an interesting account of the Jews in these districts, from which we borrow the following particulars:
"The influence of the Jews on trade and commerce, is most to be recognized on Sabbaths and Jewish Festivals. For then there prevails, (not only in small but in many large places,) a deep and solemn stillness, a truly Sabbath rest, scarcely visible even in protestant and religious England. The streets are almost deserted; and it is only from time to time that groups may be seen, consisting of whole families going to pay their Sabbath visits. In small towns, the men are seen returning from the Synagogue, wrapped in their Tallethim (garments of fringes) and the women with their large prayer books. The husband-man, aware of all this, does not bring his produce to market on such days. The nobleman, who lives in the country, postpones his intended purchase to a working day; and even the travelling gentleman must, for that day, share the Sabbath meal of some Jew, who is not allowed to prepare fresh food.* It is a singular phenomenon, that in Galicia the native Christian prefers dealing with a Jew, to trafficking with his co-religionist. Thus the Polish nobleman frequently alights at the Jewish inn, although the hotel of the Christian would in some respects promise him more comfort. Jewish shoemakers, and especially tailors, of whom there are great numbers, are for the most part engaged by the nobility. Thus are the Jewish shops more frequented by Christian customers than those kept by Christians; nay, even the government prefers to negotiate with Jews, and generally fares the better for so doing. From all this it is evident, that the trade of this country is in the hands of the Jews. Their remarkable position in this respect cannot be ascribed, as some would have it, to their numerical strength, (though in some places they really form a majority of the inhabitants) but rather to their activity (Gewandtheit) and liveliness of temperament, which, in many points, the Polanders share with them; while the simple and somewhat stiff manners of the German are not liked; with this must also be taken into account, the incredibly low state of civilization which the Polish peasant occupies."
Moravia.--No. 5, of the Orient gives a report of the state of the Moravian Jews, which affords a heartrending account of their position. The reporter contrasts their present state in many respects, with that of their ancestors under Egyptian bondage; and, melancholy to say, the balance may in some particulars be found to incline towards Egypt!